National Education Policy Center Announces the Bunkum Awards for Bad Research

This marks the eighth year that the National Education Policy Center has handed out the Bunkum Awards, which recognize the lowlights in educational research over the past year. As long as the bunk keeps flowing, the awards will keep coming. It’s the least we can do. This year’s deserving awardees join a pantheon of divine purveyors of weak data, shoddy analyses, and overblown recommendations from years past. Congratulations, we guess—to whatever extent congratulations are due. Dr. David Berliner, the Regents’ Professor Emeritus and former dean of the College of Education at Arizona State University, awards the 2013 Bunkum Awards for Shoddy Education Research.

The ‘Do You Believe in Miracles?’ Award

To Public Agenda for Review of Failure Is Not an Option

The “Do You Believe in Miracles?” Award goes to the Public Agenda Foundation for Failure is Not an Option: How Principals, Teachers, Students and Parents from Ohio’s High-Achieving, High-Poverty Schools Explain Their Success

The ‘We’re Pretty Sure We Could Have Done More with $45 Million’ Award

To Gates Foundation for Two Culminating Reports from the MET Project

The “We’re Pretty Sure We Could Have Done More with $45 Million” Award goes to the Gates Foundation and its Measures of Effective Teaching Project.

The ‘It’s Just Not Fair to Expect PowerPoints to Be Based on Evidence’ Award

To Achievement School District and Recovery School District for Building the Possible: The Achievement School District’s Presentation in Milwaukee & The Recovery School District’s Presentation in Milwaukee

The “It’s Just Not Fair to Expect PowerPoints to Be Based on Evidence” Award goes to Elliot Smalley of Tennessee’s Achievement School District and Patrick Dobard of the Louisiana Recovery School District.

The ‘Look Mom! I Gave Myself an ‘A’ on My Report Card!’ Award

Second Runner-up: To StudentsFirst for State Policy Report Card

First Runner-up: To American Legislative Exchange Council for Report Card on American Education

Grand Prize Winner: To Brookings Institution for The Education Choice and Competition Index

and for School Choice and School Performance in the New York City Public Schools

Back in the old days, when people thought they had a good idea, they would go through the trouble of carefully explaining the notion, pointing to evidence that it worked to accomplish desired goals, demonstrating that it was cost effective, and even applying the scientific method! But that was then, and this is now. And some of the coolest kids have apparently decided to take a bit of a shortcut: They simply announce that all their ideas are fantastic, and then decorate them in a way that suggests an evidence-based judgment. Witness the fact that we are now swimming in an ocean of report cards and grades whereby A’s are reserved for those who adopt the unproven ideas of the cool kids. Those who resist adopting these unproven ideas incur the wrath of the F-grade.

Read the entire article on the National Education Policy Center at

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